An independent report from the Imperial College London that was commissioned by Drax demonstrates that the UK’s ‘global leadership’ in bioenergy is setting an example to the rest of the world in transitioning from coal to net zero.
The UK’s share of electricity generation from biomass has tripled over the past decade, hitting an all-time high of 11% in 2020. This means that the UK has the highest share of electricity production from biomass of any large country (ones with over 100 TWh/year electricity demand).
Progress over the last 15 years has meant that sustainable bioenergy has played a central role in:
Replacing coal by converting old coal power stations to sustainable fuels, which has helped the UK’s world-leading rapid reduction of coal in its energy system;
Supporting other renewables, such as wind and solar, by providing a back-up low-carbon energy source and helping to stabilise the energy system;
Laying the groundwork for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping us to reach Net Zero.
Comparing 2012 to 2019, coal-to-biomass conversions reduced carbon emissions by 10 MtCO2 per year, equivalent to taking 2.17 million cars off the road every year. By the mid-2030s, BECCS could be removing 40 MtCO2 per year from the atmosphere, comparable to total annual emissions in 2020.
Sustainable bioenergy will be vital to the future of the UK’s energy mix and decarbonisation targets. The deployment of BECCS means annual carbon emissions from electricity generation could fall negative as early as 2030 in National Grid’s scenarios.